Over the past few years conversation about the need to reinvent the education industry has escalated. The schooling system has changed very little since the beginning of the first industrial revolution. A bell rings and everyone must move into the classroom, then sit still, listen, take instruction from the teacher and don’t question too much. Then another bell goes and it is tea break, etc… Doesn’t this sound like it was designed to prepare people for routine factory work, rather than today’s fast changing and dynamic age, where increasing complexity and ambiguity requires a radically new approach? One that works within non-linear complexity and builds creativity and systems thinking rather than one based on reductionism and linear cause and effect thinking.
The first thing to look at is that education is upside down. One curriculum that everyone must fit into. In most cases, it also includes one way of teaching one curriculum. This needs to be flipped. We are all unique and therefore we need highly individualised curricula which are uniquely shaped around individual’s natural strengths. The early foundation years of one’s education might still require some common building blocks, however, with the advancement of AI and deep learning in the field of human psychology, I believe we will be able to accurately detect a person’s natural strengths from as young as 3 years old, (Research in the field of neuroscience now suggests that our personality at 3 years is very consistent through into adulthood), thus enabling us to begin tailoring a child’s education towards nurturing and growing their natural strengths, from a very early stage of development. Technology platforms such as Sterkla.com and many others, will be perfectly positioned to facilitate the connecting of students and tutors. This will mean that individuals will be able to hand pick their subjects and tutors based on which subjects complement their strengths and which tutors complement their style of learning. This will also allow education to become incredibly agile in meeting the dynamically changing needs of our increasingly complex world, which unfortunately, traditional institutions just cannot do.
As human beings we generally tend to resist upsetting status quo, until the status quo begins to fail us or create massive pain. The basic drivers of human behaviour are pain and pleasure, although we will always do much more to avoid pain. This along with the need to find coping mechanisms to meet increasingly complex challenges in our world has driven our individual and collective evolution. Until now, the pain required to change education has to a large extent outweighed the need to change it. Even if you agree with my assumptions about how education needs to change, actually removing your child from a traditional educational institute suddenly sounds a bit uncomfortable or even risky. And the simple reason for this is that the traditional route is familiar and safe.
With global COVID-19 pandemic escalating exponentially, increased restrictions on international travel, lock down of international boarders and the closure of more and more school, universities and educational institutes – where to from here? Currently we do not know how long this pandemic will continue, but it seems that from this vantage point the end is not yet in sight and the infection numbers are rising, not falling. Whilst we have been talking about the imminent disruption of the education industry, who would have thought that a global health crisis might prove to be the tipping point and accelerator of this disruption. Even if schools and universities close, education cannot stop and people will search and find alternative solutions for the continuity of their education. This could be the very factor that drives the much needed education revolution. If more and more schools and universities continue to close it will force a behaviour change and once people have found comfort in an alternative solution, there will be no going back.
We are seeing a trend in work where companies are reducing their numbers to a small core group of employees, then outsourcing “staff on demand” as described in the book – Exponential Organisations, precipitating a move away from corporatization and towards working remotely in small businesses or self-employment with an emphasis on specialisation, personal branding and global collaboration. I believe a similar trend is emerging in education, where the move is away from traditional educational institutions who own “the brand” and dictate the curricula, towards specialised or niche’d online tutors who own their own personal brand and allow education to become highly agile, accessible and individualised. I see the interpersonal aspect of education and the common human need for connection, being organised around community, cultural and sporting type activities rather than around educational institutes. Could COVID-19 fast track these changes?
By Gavin Lund – Co-Founder of Sterkla Coaching & Tutoring App
Online Tutoring coming in Version2.0 to Sterkla